Neuroendocrine neoplams (NENs) are mostly relatively indolent malignancies but a significant number have metastatic disease at diagnosis mainly to the liver. Although in the majority of such cases the primary origin of the tumor can be identified, in approximately 11–22% no primary tumor is found and such cases are designated as NENs of unknown primary origin (UPO). This has significant therapeutic implications with respect to potentially resectable hepatic disease and/or application of appropriate medical therapy, either chemotherapeutic agents or targeted treatment, as the response to various treatments varies according to the origin of the primary tumor. This lack of tumor specific orientated treatment may also account for the relatively poorer prognosis of NENs of UPO compared to metastatic NENs with a known primary site. In the majority of cases the primary tumors are located in the small bowel and the lung, but a number may still elude detection. Occasionally the presence of a functional syndrome may direct to the specific tissue of origin but in the majority of cases a number of biochemical, imaging, histopathological and molecular modalities are utilized to help identify the primary origin of the tumor and direct treatment accordingly. Several diagnostic algorithms have recently been developed to help localize an occult primary tumor; however, in a number of cases no lesion is identified even after prolonged follow-up. It is expected that the delineation of the molecular signature of the different NENs may help identify such cases and provide appropriate treatment.
Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 4, 2017
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